- “The Lord spoke to me…”
- “God revealed to me…”
- “I felt led by God to…”
- “The Holy Spirit guided me…”
And many other such phrases, indicating that God somehow directly communicates with them and does so on a regular basis.
Honestly, my first thought is usually “God has never spoken to me like that–am I not His child, too?”
But then I take it to Scripture, and I want to ask, “Exactly how has God spoken to you, and in what way is He leading you?” If they define what they mean in a biblical way, perhaps we are no so far apart.
For instance, if they mean they searched Scripture diligently and discovered what God wanted them to do, I totally understand walking in God’s wisdom and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit in that way. Or if they mean they sought godly counsel from wise Christians who gave them biblical advice, I understand that, too. But if they mean that God actually spoke words and sentences to them, communicating through a dream or a vision, that is outside my realm of Christian experience. I will not insist they didn’t hear those words or see those visions, but I will remind them that God Himself instructs us:
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4.1)
One major test (perhaps THE major test) is to check what you hear against what God has already revealed in Scripture. In that way, God’s revealed and tested word continues to stand as the basis for every other word or message we receive in life. No external message (from someone claiming to speak for God) or internal message (from a feeling, a heart-tug, or a word coming into our mind) can stand above and supersede God’s already revealed word.
Ezekiel 13 powerfully exposes the rampant false teaching among the Jews just before Nebuchadnezzar leveled the city in 586 BC. God describes those false prophets as those who…
- “prophecy from their own hearts” (13.2)
- “follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!” (13.2)
- “have seen false visions and lying divinations” (13.6)
- “say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them” (13.6)
- “have mislead My people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace” (13.10)
Our deceptive hearts can fool even ourselves, and we can think that a certain strong feeling to do something is the word of the Lord. Let us be careful not to blindly trust in our feelings one way or the other. God has certainly planted a conscience within each of us which either condemns us when we do something wrong or commends us when we do something right, but that’s not the same thing as God speaking to us directly.
Examine the Scriptures and find how God spoke to prophets. He did not leave them with feelings; He always spoke clearly, directly, to the point. That’s how God communicates. If you tell me that God told you to do something, please don’t be offended when I ask how you received that word. I’m testing the spirits, and maybe I can help teach you how to test the spirits, as well.
How tragic to lean on our own hearts and our own spirits for guidance! How terrible it will be for those who follow their feelings to stand before Jesus and say, “But it felt so real!” and to have Jesus respond, “But I never said that. That wasn’t Me speaking.”
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3.5)